Saturday, March 12, 2011

This was a rough one

Man, oh man, this was a rough one - this surgery recovery has been a lot tougher than I was prepared for!

A week ago Thursday, I went under the knife to begin the long, involved breast reconstruction process after my radical mastectomy in February last year. I really did like my cancer surgeon, but as I think I've mentioned before, aesthetics wasn't her concern. The scar she left me wasn't just a scar, it w
as a disfiguring monstrosity, IMHO. (and my humble opinion is the only one that matters!!) I was left with a handful of dangly flabby flesh under my arm, and a big indentation in the center of my chest.

So after my usual research and much consideration, I decided to go ahead with some reconstruction. My doctor is adorable, with great eyes and a wonderful smile. But I suspect
I started this whole thing on the wrong foot, because I may have embarrassed him in front of his surgical team the day of surgery.

He came in to see me as I was being prepped and explained what we'd be doing, for my sake as well as for his team. Well, he apparently hadn't read my chart that morning, or had forgotten what we'd agreed upon, so I had to correct him as to what 'we would be doing' that day. In my inimitable 'stick foot in mouth' fashion, I mentioned reading my chart, and opened my gown to show him the big dent in my chest and asked if he remembered me now.

You could see the light dawn, and he covered himself be
autifully, and went on to say that what he had mentioned previously would be the next step after we did the TRAM-flap surgery to repair the deformity left by the scar, and that we may or may not get to the next step today, depending on how well I stood up to this first step. (I reminded him of the crap under my arm too - an easy fix - just whack it of and stitch it up.) He reminded me that this would be a more painful recovery than most. Oh yes, and he was going to take out the port in my chest where I received my chemo and Herceptin - with only one more Herceptin treatment, taking it out now would save me another trip under anesthetic and the knife to remove it later.

As you may recall from an earlier posting, TRAM-flap surgery is quite involved and includes moving some of my own muscle and body fat from my belly (take it all!! please!!) and placing it up in chest to fill in the big d
ent and create the start of a replacement boob. I have plenty of fat to share, but apparently it's not in the right location - most of my fat seems to be under the muscle layer instead of on top, which is the stuff that can be moved. So, as he told me when we began all the conversation and study, my fat wouldn't give me enough of a boobie to be worthwhile, that we would have to do an implant as well. OK, one step at a time.

Anyway, now that w
e were all on the same page, and I knew I'd be getting the surgery I thought I was there for, my doc took out his pen and drew all over me, to mark where he wanted to cut and where he intended to put my fat. The new one is gonna be up there somewhere near where it was when I was a teenager, to match (?) the poor other little thing that's hanging down around my belly button! That, presumably, will be taken care of 'later.

Then I went to sleep. When I woke up, I hurt ALL over. Drugs, give me some drugs, NOW!!

out I was sliced from hip bone to hip bone to recover my 'usable' belly fat. And muscle. Remember when you first tried doing sit-ups after years of no exercise - you thought you'd never stand again, let alone breath or sit up or bend? This was worse. OMG, it was worse. Wasn't just the skin that was sliced hip to hip, it was the muscle (and I obviously had more there than I thought!!), and it hurt to move at all! And, oh yeah, as you can see, I have three drains in me. Plus, he went thru the belly button to do some of the work, so my poor belly is sore and swollen and hurts!!!

But I have the beginnings of a little boob!! And amazingly, there is little to no pain in the area, unless I move wrong and yank on the drain line. And the crap under my arm is GONE, and the port is GONE. I'm feeling almost human! Relatively speaking, of course!

Now, if I could just sit up without wincing...

The next step, Monday, will hopefully see the drains come out, at least two of them. The next surgery, should we decide to go ahead with it, is a couple months down the road. That would be the beginnings of an implant - a skin enhancer to stretch the skin to encompass more growth in a budding boobie. We'll see how I feel about it all later. I might just settle for a breast reduction on the droopy side and let it go at that.

But first? Stand up straight! I've walked with Misha a couple times now, and by the time I get home, I'm starting to fold in the middle from exertion and weakness. I'm thinking my doc didn't tell me how really painful this part was because I embarrassed him in front of his team! Not really - I think he knew I was tough. I just didn't know how tough I'd have to be for this one!

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